When you have a dynamic group of friends who are also your professional sounding board, you get some very deep conversations going, and often a blog is formed. Amy Pietrowski started us off with this great blog post that asks some pretty solid questions about what our roles are. When I say “our roles” I am talking about those of us who hold a technology titled role in education. For months now I have been seriously thinking about how others see me, and considering how very limited that title I hold is. When I was a teacher, you saw me as a education professional with abundant knowledge that I shared with students and peers. Since I am in elementary, my knowledge ranged from content, to assessment, parent engagement, curriculum mapping, and more. You could make a pretty good judgement about my daily role. That was my TEACHER title.
Fast forward to today. I don’t think I have an official title, but I know the job posting title isn’t what is in my email signature. I titled myself the Instructional Technology Specialist, as that was a close as I could get to what the job asked, and how I morphed it. When I say I morphed it, I did, but without a doubt I could never have done it without a leader who had the same vision I had. If you don’t follow Erinn Angelo on Twitter, you should. While she tweets mostly from Sara Harp Minter, she would be a great person to connect with in educational leadership for sure. Her leadership has allowed me to make that role exactly what I wanted it to be… and for three straight years it has looked different every year. Year one I just wanted to redesign a lab and rethink a learning space. She supported that. Year two I wanted flexible furniture and yes, you guessed it, that happened too. Year three I suggested I change rooms, change resources, and change my whole schedule. As you probably guessed, that happened too. So to say the least, my role has been very different in all three years. So how on earth do you define my role?
In three years I have.. just to name a few
Taught 1:1 PC’s with K-5
Taught 1:1 Tablets with K-5
Taught 1:1 Chromebooks with K-5
Mobile Device Management
Lead Professional Learning
Redesigned Learning Spaces
Troubleshooting Like A BoSS
Led our school to two straight years of Common Sense Education Certification
Led our school into a contest that yielded us 15,ooo dollars in new Chromebooks
Brought Google Expeditions to our school
While all of this sounds delightfully in line with the title I hold, guess what is missing?
Curriculum and Instruction
Teacher Instructional Support
You see, it is so easy to put me in a BOX. It is so easy to assume I don’t know much about true leadership, curriculum, instructional practices, evaluating assessment data to drive instruction, and building culture. It might be easy, but it is all WRONG. I know all of those things. When given the opportunity, I can contribute to success in any one, or all of those practices. I simply feel that the last few months I have been put in a BOX, and I hate that feeling. I hate that you can’t see who I am beyond the fact that I am helpful when there is a technology problem to be solved. I hate that this week I sat in a large room with teachers, and when the speaker needed technology support, I hesitated. I hesitated because all I could think of was that BOX that room was about to put me in. That BOX that was strictly knowledgeable troubleshooting. I hate that I cringed in a room with a speaker who kept asking if the tool she was showing was good with us “techs”, as in separating us from the teachers in the room. I don’t like that BOX. In fact I want out of that box so bad I can’t stand it. I no longer want the word technology in my title. I think I want to be the Digital Literacy Specialist, yep, free of the stigma that we “techs” just know how to make the technology work. Let it be known that no matter the title, I am way more than technology. I am a strong educational leader, and I think if my Voxer group helps me shout it from the rooftops, maybe someone will listen!